From Zero to Marc Jacobs: Margaux Brooke's Fashion Week Adventure
Model Margaux Brooke, who was made famous as a contestant on Coco Rocha’s competition television series "The Face", let Milk Made follow her around during her very first time as a working model during New York Fashion Week. Here, in her own words, she shares her story exclusively with Milk Made.
For weeks people had been asking me back home in Los Angeles what shows I was booked for. The truth was, I wasn’t booked for any… not yet at least. I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t book any shows at all. I had never done New York Fashion Week before. I was in for a ride.
One of my very first castings was for Alexander Wang in his showroom on Canal street.
I waited for the elevator. The door opened and more models poured out of the small compartment then seemed to feasibly fit. I walked inside the elevator joined by another model, “It’s so small, no?” she asked with her European accent. I nodded and pressed the button to the show room. After a moment of awkward silence the doors opened to a scene of controlled chaos.
There must of have been 30 models in the open space, some were sitting, waiting for their turn to go through the casting process, others signing in, more were having their pictures taken, while some walked for the critical-eyed-casting directors. It was so fast paced. Girls were leaving as quickly as they came. I was instantly hooked.
I quickly signed in and proceeded to wait along with the other models. There were girls from all different countries, speaking various languages, with unique looks and differing heights. Every model in New York City was going to attend this casting before fashion week started and I was going to go through this process more times than I could count by the time it was all over.
Anita Bitton was the casting director for Alexander Wang, so she was the woman I had to impress. I smiled and introduced myself. I hadn’t had any formal runway training so I just sort of “winged” it. I pulled my shoulders back, stood as straight as possible and walked quickly and with attitude. They thanked me for coming and it was over. The whole process took maybe a minute. I was so nervous I wasn’t sure how I did, but I knew I’d have to get used to the feeling.
Luckily, I had made some friends last time I was in New York, one of which really believed in me and is a casting director himself. His name is Preston Chaunsumlit.
He had offered to give me runway lessons for free, which I was extremely grateful for because normally a girl would pay a hefty price to learn to walk from him. He spent nearly two hours perfecting my strut. After I initially walked for him, he said my walk was “very L.A.”… which in the fashion industry means it was bad.
He said I walked too slowly and was too happy. He told me to walk with “a gangster heart and laser eyes.” I tried my best to deepen my expression, swing my arms a little more, walk a little faster and harder, like a had places to go and didn’t care who was in my way.
By the end of the two hours I was sweating and exhausted, but it was time well spent. He videotaped me after one hour than again after the second and I had made a vast improvement. Step by step he broke my walk down and explained what needed to change, why and how to do it. He knew his stuff and I couldn’t be more thankful because apparently I needed a lot of help. My walk was fashion week ready.
Wednesday: January 5th
The first show I booked was the V Files show. It was made up of three designers- Assk Paris, Melitta Baumeister and Hyein Seo. I was going to walk for Assk Paris. Since they were my first show, they were also my first fitting. I showed up to the V Files headquarters and was greeted by a room full with racks of clothing and busy people throwing pieces on model after model.
I saw Preston and smiled because we were twinning in matching Wilhelmina “Willy” sweatshirts. I tried on a couple pieces for Assk and ended up with a forest camo cropped sweatshirt and navy mini skirt with a black backwards cap and Cat lace up boots. I was feeling pretty badass in my outfit to say the least, plus I was over the moon that I was going to be in the show at all. I was about to walk in New York Fashion Week!
The night passed by in a quick blur. After the run through I was rushed in to hair and makeup where I had three people working on me at once, one was doing my foundation, another doing my eye shadow and a third doing my hair. The makeup artist described the look as “oily and bruised”, and that’s exactly what I looked like, as if I hadn’t slept or showered in three days. The hair stylists complimented this idea by giving me faux dreads, which I could hardly wait to un-comb by the time I got home.
A few hours later and it was show time. Guests started pouring in, I watched via the backstage monitor as they filled the seats around the runway. It was around this time when models were being called to change in to their looks. Some models had multiple looks; I myself only had one and was relieved. Minutes later the runway lights dimmed and things got really quiet in the front of the house, all the while people are still yelling backstage for last minute makeup touchups and outfit look over’s.
Assk Paris’s music started to bump and blare over the speakers. The first model walked out of to the runway and the lights flicked on. I watched on the monitor as each model walked the course and returned. My turn to walk was fast approaching. The producer pushed the model ahead of me out on to the runway; my heart was beating like crazy. I rolled my shoulders back and kept repeating to myself in my head, ‘shoulders back, stand straight, chin down and walk like you’re going somewhere. Be mean!’
I was pushed out onto the runway, I turned the corner. The lights blinded me as I stomped my way down the white flooring. I could see people on either side through my peripherals but didn’t dare break my gaze with the cameras.
I walked to the end then made a sharp turn to the left, then another left and one more right, eventually making my way to backstage where I immediately relaxed my posture and inhaled a deep breath. It was over just like that, hours of preparation, for mere seconds in front of the audience.
I think I was holding my breath the entire time I was walking. I must have been nervous but Preston said I did a great job, and in less than an hour after show I got to see the proof for myself in pictures online. I saw myself looking mean, legs crossed, one in front of the other, shoulders back. It was so invigorating. My first show was done and I couldn’t wait for the next one. Directly after the show I was told to go to a Brandon Sun “fit-to-confirm”.
FYI: “fit to confirm” means it’s a fitting and if they like you in the clothes they will then confirm you for the show. I stayed at the casting until 11pm that night and even though I was exhausted it ended up being totally worth it because I booked the show for the following day.
Thursday: January 6th
Brandon Sun was a little bit bigger as far as production value. They had sushi backstage, which was incredible, as well as fresh pressed juice, two of my favorite things. Hair and makeup was a little quicker and this show. There was more down time as well so I hung out with one of my fellow Wilhelmina model babes, Jing Xang who I ended up doing quite a few shows with this season.
What I loved about Brandon Sun, other than the fact that the clothes were unique beautiful, and impeccably made was that the designer himself was so relaxed. He was never flustered, yelling, or ordering models around backstage. He was Zen and enjoying the experience with all of us, making it feel that much more special.
The runway was much like that of V Files, maybe a little shorter, which gave the whole experience a more intimate vibe. The moment was over as fast as it began and once again, it was on to the next one.
Friday: January 7th
My next fashion week moment was going to be for Chris Gelinas, a MADE Fashion Week designer with a unique vision. His pieces reminded me of 1950s Mad Men, meets futuristic outer space. I was called in for a fit to confirm at 11 o’clock at night. I was already at home in Brooklyn, in my pajamas after a long day of castings but alas I had to go back in to the city and try to book this job. It was worth it though because I woke up to an email saying I had booked the show.
Unlike the other shows I had done so far this was a presentation, which meant I’d be standing in heels for nearly two hours! I had always heard horror stories about presentations and girls passing out but I wasn’t too afraid. If they were actually life-threatening people wouldn’t have them anymore, right?
Well I will say this, it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. In fact, the hardest part was not getting distracted. We were supposed to stand there with a model-like expression and pose for two hours but it’s only natural to want to look around while people are standing their staring at you. Imagine playing the silent game as a kid but not being allowed to break the silence, no matter what. After the two hours are up it’s like you’re allowed to be human again.
Saturday: February 8th
My next show was for Zana Bayne, who is a friend of mine and an amazingly talented designer of all things leather. She specializes in harnesses but has branched out to make headpieces, skirts, belts and so much more. I’ve been obsessed with her work ever since I modeled some of pieces in a Treats Magazine spread almost a year ago, so I was honored that I was going to be in her show.
The look for the show was amazing, a glossy cream-colored lid paired with a deep, blood red lip. It was romantic yet modern. I had two manicurists working on me at once, one for each hand. It wasn’t long after they were done that I messed one of my nails up. I am notorious for ruining my nails before show time.
My outfit consisted of a high-waisted leather skirt that flared out at the hips and was adorned with tons of individual black leather tassels. It was stunning. There were no words to describe how sexy and empowered Zana Bayne’s pieces made me feel. Her designs embody the perfect combination of womanly strength and restraint.
Once I was done being dressed I looked up to take in the full chaos that was going on around me. The small backstage space was wild. Leather was flying, girls were half-naked clinging to racks as they were corseted in to their ensembles.
The music started and the first girl walked out. I inched forward as each girl went out and made her pass on the runway. Within minutes it was my turn. I was slightly nervous because my boot covers weren’t the easiest thing to walk in, I could barely bend my knees.
The producer pushed me out on to the runway. I could hear the cameras snapping as I crossed one leather clad leg in front of the other. I posed at the end of the runway, counting to three in my head, then turned around and walked back and out the door to enter backstage again. I didn’t expect photographers to be waiting there as I made this crazy face of relief, something along the lines of the biggest sigh I could muster and the smile a 3-year-old might make the first time they see Mickey Mouse in person. Some photographer out there has that golden shot.
I immediately lined up again for the finale. It was so invigorating, everyone clapping and cheering Zana on. I felt so happy for her and glad to be apart of her big moment.
Sunday: January 9th – My First Day Off (sorta)
Sunday was one of the only days during fashion week that I didn’t have a show. But that certainly didn’t mean I had the day off. I went to a few castings for DM Fashion Studio, one of the biggest fashion week casting agencies. Today I was going to a casting for Mason Martin Margiela, one of my favorite brands. They had me walk, try on a few pieces, then take some photos, and then I was on my way. Sadly I didn’t book it.
Monday: January 10th
On Monday I had two shows back to back. One was another Made Fashion Week show for designer Azede Jean Pierre, which took place at The Standard. I was relieved to find out it was an actual show, so no standing for 2+ hours. What was even more exciting was that William Graper was styling it. He had styled for the Zana Bayne show as well, so I’d just seen him two days earlier. Reunion!
It’s really nice to work with the same people during fashion week. You start to form this little traveling family. I was also working with the same production company that produced the Brandon Sun show, so I knew everyone backstage.
The hair and makeup was fairly simple, I was the first one done. Short hair for the win!
Nothing about this show made me nervous. The clothes were relaxed and I was wearing flats, it doesn’t get much easier than that. I walked down and back effortlessly, keeping a cool demeanor. The second the show was over I bolted backstage to change. I thanked everyone and then quickly ran to my next show for Alice and Olivia
that was being held just down the street at the infamous Sleep No More’s Mckittrick Hotel.
The hair and make up setup was crazy. I’ve never seen so many hair and makeup tables. They spanned the entire length of this very narrow room, maybe 1000 feet in length. Alice and Olivia had 42 models and therefore 42 looks, almost unheard of for a presentation. They sat me down and went to work immediately. I had maybe four people working on me at once, three for makeup and one for nails. It was madness.
As soon as girls were ready they started placing them in the elaborate, multi-room fairytale that they had brought to life for their presentation. There was Rapunzel, sitting atop a hill, her long locks flowing down an entire story to the audience below. In the other room was Cinderella who stood sweeping her sorrows away in a chic cream-colored strapless dress, and I was Snow White, laying down in a glass case, frozen in couture time.
I could tell all of the other models envied my extremely relaxed position; some even hated me I’m sure. But I’d hate me too if I were one of the girls who had to stand for two hours in the legendary Alice and Olivia stiletto heel.
The show began and fashion’s finest started to pour into the venue. It was slightly awkward for me because I was supposed to be “asleep.” That meant keeping my eyes closed. But I couldn’t help myself; I peaked every now and again. At one point Stacey Bendet’s (a designer of Alice and Olivia) daughter started to knock on the glass, yelling- “Wake up Snow White! Wake up!”. I opened my eyes and looked over at her, smiling. She immediately cheered up and stopped banging on the glass.
For the majority of the two hours I kept my eyes closed. I found out after the fact that Paris and Nicky Hilton were taking selfies with me, while I lay there unknowingly being the best Snow White I can be. Pretty hilarious. I was instagrammed a lot that night as “Snow White sleeping at the whimsical Alice and Olivia presentation. #AOFall14”.
I amazingly had two days off! Well… one and a half!
The days still felt long because I was still waiting for Marc Jacobs to call me in for a fitting. I had gone to an initial casting, a callback, and a fitting for Marc Jacobs already. I was still on hold for them, which meant that I still had a shot at booking the show.
I was so anxious that I went to the Wilhelmina offices and hung out with my agents for nearly 3 hours, just waiting. It was nearing 8pm when I knew I had to go home. They told me they would call the second they knew anything. I unwillingly boarded the subway and took the L back in to Brooklyn. I grabbed a bite to eat and relaxed with my roommates.
It was getting late and I had pretty much given up hope when my phone started ringing. It was one of my agents, Micki. He told me I had a fitting at Marc Jacobs and I needed to get over there as fast as possible. I hung up the phone and let out a squeal. It was 10:30pm at this point but I didn’t care, I grabbed my coat and ran out the door.
I could barely contain my excitement. I had to keep myself from literally running to the subway. Actually, I did run some of the way because I had so much energy. I got off at Spring St, and sprinted to Marc Jacobs headquarters. I took the elevator up and when the doors opened I saw a relaxed environment of models sitting around on couches in silence.
I had to calm myself down, because unlike them, I felt like doing jumping jacks.
Fittings were taking place in the other room with renowned stylist Katie Grand and Marc Jacobs himself. I was extremely nervous but overwhelming excited as well. Katie called me in and had me try on my first look. Then a hairstylist put a blonde wig on me. Finally, Katie had me walk for her and Marc. The anxiety I felt was unparalleled.
They had me try on another look, then another. Then they had me stand next to two other models wearing similar looks, then we all walked, one at time. Next they had me photographed and taken upstairs. I thought to myself, ‘this must be a good thing.’ A tailor saw me and said my look was fine, no tailoring needed. I followed a woman back down stairs in to a room with the casting director Anita Bitton, who was sitting in front of a computer, probably making her selections.
I saw a picture of my face on a board with a bunch of other girls, which seemed like another good sign. There were other models in this room as well, all with blue goop on their eyebrows. Anita told me they were going to bleach my eyebrows now. That seemed like a REALLY good sign. Things were looking better and better for me.
I sat down as a woman applied bleach to my thick, dark brows. She informed me it would probably take a couple applications before they were thoroughly bleached. I nodded. Another model was getting a massage, yes Marc Jacobs had a masseuse in house for the fittings… how cool is that!?
At this point it was passed midnight. My phone dinged with a new email from Micki. It read, “You’re confirmed for the Marc Jacobs show.” I was still sitting which bleach on my eyebrows. In my head, I was screaming for joy. I couldn’t believe it. I was confirmed for one of the biggest shows of New York Fashion Week!!
It was such a joyous moment and I was dead silent as I sat getting my eyebrows bleached, only with a huge smile on my face and my thumbs moving a million miles an hour as I texted my close friends and family. I only told maybe three or four people that night because you never know, girls get pulled last minute all the time.
In this industry they say, “you aren’t confirmed for a show until you are on the runway.”
I stayed at the Marc Jacobs offices until 4am; by the time I left to go home I could barely keep my eyes open. Luckily the call time for hair and makeup wasn’t until noon the following day. I crashed so hard that night and woke up feeling rejuvenated and ready to prove myself at the Marc Jacobs show. This was my day, the biggest of my career.
Thursday: January 14th (Judgement Day!)
I rolled up to the 69th Regiment Armory at 11:45am. I told security I was one of the models and they escorted me back to hair and makeup, which wasn’t even set up yet. I was early. In fact, I was the first model there.
I killed time by grabbing some of the catered lunch. I love it when shows have catering.
It didn’t take long for things to get busy. After maybe an hour or less I was getting my eyebrows bleached for the third time and having a wig cap put on. I hate wig caps they give me a headache. Any other day I would have whined about it, but not today – not at Marc Jacobs.
Then a hair stylist painstakingly cut my wig in to a perfect a-line bob, in just under half-a-hour. It was extremely impressive, having had this haircut before and it taken nearly two hours in the salon. But no one had two hours to do anything backstage. The fashion week hair and makeup teams have done this so many times they could get a girl ready in less than 15 minutes… in their sleep!
At around 3pm my entire look was finished, hair, makeup, nails, done. I still had four hours before they would even do the run-through. I had free time so I decided to go check out the set. Big shows always have amazing sets, especially Marc Jacobs. He’s known for creating unique, vast runways.
I rounded the corner, walked down a dark hallway and turned again, and there in front of me was a huge, magnificent set that consisted of hundreds of crafted clouds delicately hung from the trellises above them. The seats were perfectly cut out foam cylinders, meticulously spaced to created 8 individual runways, making all of the audience members part of the front row. It was a long runway, covering thousands of feet of space.
Hours passed, it was hard not instagraming every moment of the experience but it wasn’t allowed. Instead I looked at instagram to take my mind off things, played Candy Crush Saga and wished that I had brought a book with me.
My boyfriend flew in from California that day and I had managed to get him a pass backstage. It was so exciting to see him and that he was going to be there for my big moment. I wish my mom had been able to make it but luckily Marc Jacobs was going to be live-streaming their show. So everyone I love could watch it.
Finally, it was time for the run-through. We always do the run-through in our normal clothes; in my case that consisted of leather pants with long underwear underneath, two t-shirts and my steel-toed Doc Martens.
The entire first lap of the runway was behind a screen, no one could see my face so I took that moment to get my head in the game. I rounded the corner and stepped in to the first aisle of what seems like an endless runway.
I walked as best and as fast as I could up, down, up, down, up, there’s Marc Jacobs, Katie Grand and Anita Bitton staring at me, up, down and back behind the screen.
My calves were on FIRE! Like I’m not kidding, it was painful. I don’t think my calves have ever hurt that much before. I saw another model remove her shoes; I did the same, while regretting my long underwear and double layer shirt situation. I was sweating as if I’d just run a marathon.
It was time to do the run-through of the finale, which required us to walk 6 of the 8 aisles. My calves weren’t ready, but I had no choice. I walked out on to the runway, walking even faster this time with the rest of the girls, my rainbow colored socks passing Marc Jacobs.
An hour passed and it was 7pm, time to get dressed. All of the girls were dressed and lined up with in 30 minutes. One of the models informed me that Marc always starts his shows on time, which I thought was pretty cool considering the industry standard is always “better late than never”.
I kept telling myself. “This is your moment, you get one shot.” It was time to impress all of the people who believed in me and who had gotten me here, my boyfriend, my family, my agents, Anita, Katie and of course Marc. I didn’t want to let them down and I certainly wanted to enjoy this moment for myself. I tried my hardest not to be stressed.
I heard Jessica Lange’s voice bellow out across the armory as her song began to play. I was the 12th girl to walk and I watched with great anticipation as girl after girl went out on to the runway. 11, 10, 9, 8… 3, 2, 1, GO! Before I even realized what was happening I was walking down the runway behind the screen.
I walked out on to the first aisle and immediately felt all the stress of fashion week and all the anxiety that had pushed me to this point melt away. I was walking for Marc Jacobs. My calves were on fire by the third aisle but I didn’t care, this was a dream come true for me. I knew everyone I cared about was watching at home or from somewhere in the darkness of The Armory.
I thought, I could be walking past Anna Wintour at this very moment… how cool is that? I walked all eight aisles and made it back behind the screen. Reality kicked back in, and with it my calf pain. It was almost over, I only had the finale left to go and my first season of New York Fashion Week would be over.
The girls filed out one at a time. We made our way up and down the aisles, half coming from each side and meeting at the beginning of the middle aisle then splitting off at the end and walking back down the opposite aisles, where we all eventually ended up backstage. The show was over, and so was fashion week.
My first season was done and I could officially say I have walked for Marc Jacobs. Every headache, foot pain, back pain, long wait at a casting or rush to a fitting was over and totally worth it. I was on Cloud Nine, which was ironically fitting because Marc Jacobs’s set was what I imagine Cloud Nine to look like. I was there, physically and mentally.